- Pre-tax losses at Horizonte Minerals rose to £935,312 in the six months to the end of June - up from a restated £579,063 last time.

Operating losses increased to £825,816 from £471,618.

Chairman David Hall said: "The first half of 2017 has been focused on the commencement of the feasibility study for our Araguaia nickel project which we are developing as Brazil's next ferro-nickel mine.

"This follows the transaction with Glencore to acquire the adjacent Serra do Tapa project, creating one of the largest and highest-grade nickel saprolite projects globally, in a good mining jurisdiction and a region with good infrastructure.

"Following significant progress made to date this year, the Araguaia Feasibility Study is now at an advanced stage with a number of the principal work streams over 50% complete for a 14,500tpa ferro-nickel operation with a 28-year life of mine.

"Having completed a £9 million fundraise in December 2016, which saw us add key strategic institutional investors to our share register, we hit the ground running in January 2017 with the appointment of a feasibility study manager, Wagner Oliveira, who has extensive ferro-nickel experience including being part of the team that lead the design and construction of Anglo American's Barro Alto ferronickel mine in Brazil.

"Key contracts have also been awarded to several leading consultants including Worley Parsons, Snowden Mining Industry Consultants, and Environmental Resources Management (ERM), creating a strong team to deliver the feasibility study.

"During the period, a 30 hole pre-excavation drilling programme was completed over the trial excavation site which successfully confirmed the high-grade nature of the Araguaia ore and targeted an area that would be representative of the first five to eight years mine life.

"The trial excavation programme is nearing completion which is targeting the removal of approximately 20,000 tonnes of ore down to a depth of around 14 metres utilising two 35 tonne excavators and four 35 tonne trucks.

"The results of this programme, together with the high-grade drilling results will be fed into the Feasibility Study which is on track to be delivered in Q4 2017 into Q1 2018.

"Progress has been made during the period by our sustainability team at Araguaia with socio-economic activities progressing positively.

"As a result, we will shortly be submitting the documents for the Installation Licence which upon award will allow mine construction to commence.

"The Company held cash balances of £5.6m as at the end of period, meaning we are fully funded to complete the feasibility study and beyond."

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